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Thursday, July 27, 2017


This week marks fifty years since the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act which partially the decriminalized homosexuality in England and Wales.

Originally, that only meant two men aged 21 and over could have sex together in complete privacy. Since then, UK law has evolved to mean an equal age of consent for sex and even marriage equality.

The LGBTI community seemingly gains more and more legislative protection each day. And, in recent years, media attention has focused on the astoundingly underrepresented subculture of the trans community.

As a community, we have a long history of championing progressive rights and movements. But recent trends in politics highlight worrying fractures along subsections and cultures.

How the far right has won LGBTI voters

Far right movements have employed homonationalism – the union of LGBTI issues with nationalist pride – to further espouse racist and fascist ideology.

In the midst of the ongoing refugee crisis, we’ve seen Marine Le Pen manage to court a significant proportion of French LGBTI voters. They seemed to not care the National Front wanted to repeal France’s 2013 marriage equality law.

Similarly, only a few years ago UKIP’s MEP David Coburn said of asylum seekers: ‘Many of these people, as we’ve heard, are ISIS.’
‘I don’t know about you but I am a homosexual and I do not want to be stoned to death,’ he added.

Later that same year, British anti-Europe party UKIP’s LGBTI faction had the gall to infiltrate London’s Pride parade. They used a grotesque perversion of LGBT campaign organization Stonewall’s slogan ‘Some people are gay, get over it’. The UKIP version read: ‘Some gays are UKIP, get over it’.

We might think Le Pen’s defeat and the collapse in UKIP’s vote in the UK general election may indicate the end of this trend. But the ‘electoral pacts’ between UKIP and Conservative candidates in Britain suggests the vitriol has not disappeared, but simply changed appearances.

How are LGBTI Conservatives able to hold their heads high in public despite Theresa May’s abhorrent voting record on LGBTI issues? Our Prime Minister has also defended fellow party members in spite of virulent homophobia. And now she has partnered with overtly anti-gay Arlene Foster and the Democratic Unionist Party. I find the LGBTI Tory attitude quite incomprehensible.

‘No rice, no spice, no chocolate, no curry’

For queer black and minority ethnics, this exclusionary ideological warfare fought on the political stage manifests on the gay scene in twisted manner.

At times the exclusionary nature is overwhelming. Owners of our some of our LGBTI biggest venues have openly scapegoated us for knife crime and called for the boycott of Muslim owned venues.
Folk on the scene are far too eager to paint entire races as homophobic.

In fact institutionalized homophobia was an export of British colonialism to many of our countries of origin. Now, queer people of color experience more racism in queer spaces than homophobia within their ethnic communities.

Gay apps and dating websites openly parade ‘no rice, no spice, no chocolate, no curry’. When challenged, the perpetrators staunchly defend this blatant display of racism as a harmless ‘preference’.
In the little positive representation queer people have in the media, we black and minority ethnic LGBTIs find ourselves pushed to the fringes yet again.

Conversations started by #gaymediasowhite across social media laid bare criminal levels of representation. We are excluded from channels that purport to stand for inclusivity and liberation.

The magnitude of our erasure reached new appalling heights in Emmerich’s 2015 film Stonewall. It boldly re-writes the Stonewall riots as the achievement of white cisgendered males, whitewashing the known legacies of black and trans people.

Breeding machines or submissive fantasies

On the other hand, our racialized identities seem to be both the object of desire and nexus of queer culture.

For black queers, we are either the dehumanised as the big dicked, ripped manly breeding machine or the curvaceous sassy, sultry and (sex) experienced ‘sista’. The identities of those falling in-between and outside of the binary are often completely erased.

For Asians the objectification often revolves around a caricature of being a docile submissive. This can be observed in a multitude of pornography movies.

Often, the celebration and performance of drag, voguing and musical performance leads to the grotesque adoption of black femininity and ‘blaccents’.

LGBTI racism shames our diverse roots

The undercurrent dehumanisation within queer spaces and culture ultimately calls for a serious change in mindset.

LGBTI people cannot seek equality whilst simultaneously being racist. It shames our diverse and empowered roots.

There are a few LGBTIs who have finally come to experience a small amount of legislative privilege. Most of them are white gay men. They should not perpetrate the mistakes wider society inflicts on them, onto the other members of their community.

A simple mutual awareness of experiences and oppression isn’t enough. We as a unified community must invest a collective effort into reconnecting with our radical roots. And we must resist the lure of corporate pinkwashing.

To this day, the ban on gay and bi men donating blood still stands. Meanwhile, vast inequality under the government’s policy of economic austerity hits our least fortunate the hardest. And our histories and sexual relations still remain absent from school curriculums.

We have plenty to proud of, and plenty to be angry at.

Emmanuel Agu was writing on behalf of UK Black Pride. Gay Star News is a media partner of UK Black Pride.


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